As part of our Period Powerful Profile series, we’re interviewing inspirational people running change-making campaigns or businesses. Next up, we chatted with Kimberley Dobney, Founder of an innovative project called Turn & Flow. Alongside her Marketing Designer Ciara, Kimberley is on a mission to make use of organic menstrual waste to save the planet.
First things first, tell us about yourself…
“Hello! I’m Kimberley, founder and project lead on Turn. Our small team is also made up of Ciara, our Marketing Designer: we both graduated last year from Brunel University London, but hey, you’re never too young to change the world, right?”
What is Turn and Flow?
“Turn and Flow is a system that will recycle organic menstrual waste. Starting with a Turn bin in place of a usual sanitary bin, Turn will collect used organic products from around the country and take them to compost. As the products break down through anaerobic digestion, they will produce biogas – these biogases can be used to generate power, in place of fossil fuels!
We love our reusable period products, but they aren’t always convenient as they need regular washing and cleaning. Instead, Turn and Flow allows your amazing disposable products to return to the earth they came from, as well as actively benefit our planet. Just think, your period could help save the world!”
What inspired you to develop Turn and Flow?
“Turn and Flow started as my major project at university: I was starting to use these fantastic products that were organic, sustainable, and much better for my body too, but couldn’t stop thinking about the fact they are all ending up in landfills with their plastic counterparts.
After a little (or a lot!) of research, I found that periods were classified as ‘offensive waste’ in the 1950s, meaning they must be binned. In the last 70 years, this has not been updated and does not reflect modern attitudes to periods. It also does not even start to take advantage of the possibilities of new organic products or recycling technology. Turn is working to change this as we help to bring periods into the 21st century.”
What is your vision for Turn and Flow? What’s coming next?
“Currently, we are in the middle of our first round of crowdfunding to raise money for our feasibility study: this study will find out exactly how we can recycle organic menstrual waste, and how much energy we can get from it. Over the next few months, we will refine the Turn system. Once it is perfect and we have run a successful pilot, we plan to roll Turn and Flow out to public spaces across the UK. We want menstruators to know that their periods are not offensive at all, they are a natural part of life for BILLIONS of people, and it is about time we started taking advantage of the possibilities!”
How can I get involved and support Turn and Flow?
“If all of this sounds great to you, we would love for you to join our community. Turn and Flow is not just for people who bleed: we are for anyone who cares about our planet and the people on it. If you are able, we would love for you to donate to our crowdfunding campaign so we can start changing the way we deal with blood – there are some great rewards too, from as little as £3!
However, we know this is such an uncertain time for so many: if you can’t donate a lot then every little helps. We need to reach our £7000 target to keep the £3500 pledged by the Natwest ‘Back Her Business’ scheme, so please do donate what you can and share with anyone you think might be interested!”
If you’re inspired by Turn and want to find out more, you can head to their website or chat to the team Turn on socials (search @turnandflow).